Despite the widely held view that today’s online era is an age of enlightenment, confusion still reigns. Doublespeak populates numerous discussions – much of it unintended. This can hush conversations and diminish the audience's confidence in speakers very quickly. In other words, mixed messages bring doubt, which leads to a loss of sales.
The Necessity of Consistency
A consistent message is necessary – now more than ever – to catch the attention of a potential customer. The average attention span has plummeted to eight seconds. At nine seconds, goldfish now have a greater concentration than a typical Internet-connected consumer. Mixed messages will quickly fray her interest.
Constantly changing messages also extend the time for the rule of seven to take effect because each successive view doesn't reinforce or reiterate the last one. And with the dozens of media channels instantly accessible by consumers, inconsistencies between print ads and emailers will very quickly cast doubt over the truth of both.
The risk for mixed messages has become greater due to the increased use of multiple media channels. Gone are the days when a story or an ad in the Manila Bulletin or on GMA 7 would gain the notice of the majority of Philippine eyeballs. New media has become prevalent and bloggers share the same space as reporters in press events.
The two root causes of confusing messages are inattention and the lack of a strategy. Inattention has been the cause of conflicting information for a long time and can be safely assumed to have grown worse because of 8-second attention spans and the variety of media channels to take into account.
But while editors and art directors can keep inattention in check, there are no safeguards against a deficient strategy. No one can tell if your brand message is on point if there are no guidelines to follow.
Creating a Consistent Message
Ensuring consistency in messaging relies on a well-planned strategy that considers both the brand and its customers. The brand is the foundation of the message. A brand that does not know itself and its place in the world will not be able to capture people's minds. Establish what the brand stands for and how it relates to others.
When it comes to its customers, the brand must clearly delineate their demographics, understand their language, know their preferred media channels, and their motivation. For example, 40-year old urban professionals in a position of responsibility likely spend a lot of time checking emails, read the newspaper in the morning, watch the news at night, and devote relatively little time to social media. They expect professionalism in thought and decorum, and are interested in further advancing their career. Customer profiles already provide channels to explore, the language to use, and what could attract interest.
While the message should be consistent in all channels, brands should exploit the advantages of their chosen channels. As famed communication theorist Marshall Mcluhan wrote, the medium is the message. Due to their inherent characteristics, different channels naturally change the form of the message.
Additionally, specific forms of communications can attract certain demographics more easily. Younger audiences gravitate to social media where interaction, infographics and short, catchy copy dominate. Events are centered on spectacle and so themes should be similarly grand to attract the man on the street Choosing the right channel can be critical to the success of the message.
Transferring the entire design and copy from one channel to another, while simple, will not maximize returns. Each channel has their own particularities and their audiences have different expectations for messages in that medium – even if the audience remains in the same target demographic. Consistent messaging does not mean duplication. A department store probably should focus on its gadget sales on Facebook and on its clothes in a fashion magazine, as long as the message still reiterates the shop's core brand promise, which may be that it's the place that provides for everybody's needs.
With M2.0's campaign for Smartmatic, which was designed to elevate the struggling reputation of the company, our team focused on the human side of the technology giant. This showed people that that the company brought much more to the table than just technology; it also brought heart. Through different releases, events, and interviews, M2.0 gave the company a much-needed human dimension, creating powerful connections with a captivated public.
Through consistent messaging, a brand can stand above the noise of the present world and distinguish itself from the herd.
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